Enhancing the Communication of Genetic Risk Data via immersive Virtual Reality

Saranya demonstrating immersive virtual reality




Edward Rose Professor of Informatics Director, Institute for Biomedical Informatics Director, Division of Informatics, Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology, & Informtics Senior Associate Dean for Informatics The Perelman School of Medicine Universit

Project Summary

Under the mentorship of Dr. Jason Moore, I focused my PURM project on using 3D video game engines such as Unity to visualize biomedical data. As genetic counselors face the task of presenting risk data to their patients in a comprehensive way, my goal was to create a virtual reality (VR) application to aid them in communicating this data.

 Throughout this research experience, I taught myself how to use Unity as well as code in the C# language. In doing this, I quickly became familiar with Unity’s user-interface, and the process of debugging code, which was essential throughout the development of the application. As I learned the ins and outs of the program, I slowly began to construct a virtual audience that would represent a patient’s risk of acquiring certain genetic diseases. If the patient had a fifty percent risk of getting diabetes, for instance, then half the audience members would turn red to demonstrate the risk. From getting feedback from other employees in the office as well as my own mentor, I was able to further develop the app. The current prototype contains screens for the genetic counselor to input data, and different options for different actions to occur to the audience to indicate the percentage of risk for a certain disease. As parts of my work were feedback oriented, I sharpened my ability to translate constructive criticism into a refined end product.